Once upon a time, I attended a gargantuan church in Nevada, and my small group leader invited me to a book release.
It was super swanky, with a red carpet entry, appetizers, live music, and even some swag. I felt like kind of a big deal.
At first I assumed she was only inviting me out of pity for my complete and utter lack of a social life. But then I found out her invitation was actually slightly more intentional: I was chosen to attend this event in hopes that I might utilize my little blog as a means of promoting the new book.

Don't worry, though, guys. Not only am I not getting paid for this*, but I'm also not even a member of that church, so my words definitely aren't tainted by some skewed sense of allegiance to the pastor and author of the book I've agreed to review. And since I've vowed time and time again to use this blog as a space for brutal honesty in my own life, I'm certainly not going to sugar-coat my opinions on someone else's words either.

The book, in case you haven't already guessed, is entitled Pursued. It is written by Jud Wilhite, and it is based on the book of Hosea from the Bible. And yes, I first hinted at all of this months ago and am only just now getting around to writing something about it. I can't even blame that on not having a copy of the book (which wasn't technically published until just last month), because my small group leader scored me an advanced copy to review waaaay back in early December:
While it may have taken me forever and a day to actually get through the whole book and compose my thoughts into the next series of blog posts, it wasn't because this isn't a good read. In fact, it's a great read. But it isn't an easy one.

Before cracking the spine of this book, I prayed God would reveal Himself uniquely to me through its pages. I prayed He would highlight the particular messages I needed to read the most...and there were a lot of them. Not only did my journey through these 200 pages require a pen in hand so I could underline, asterisk, and scribble notes all over the place (I blame Grad School for this habit); but I also found my heart needed breaks just so I could take a step back and truly process the truth behind the words I was reading.
Turns out, I have quite a bit to say.

Rather than bombard you with one insanely long blog covering all my thoughts and insights, I've decided to break some of the themes the Holy Spirit revealed to me into a few different posts.

But for this initial entry, I will say this much: if you are unfamiliar with the book of Hosea, I highly recommend you read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers first. Not only is it my very favorite book in the entire world, but it completely and totally revolutionized the way I look at my relationship with Christ. You see, the story of Hosea - whether you believe it to be fictional or not - serves as an intensely beautiful metaphor for God's fierce love for His people. 

He loves us in a way we will never fully comprehend:

He has the passion and intensity of a Lover, balanced with the compassion and tenderness of a Father, all wrapped up in the sovereignty and philanthropy of a Creator.

Jud's book (Pursuedis just one attempt at breaking down this overwhelmingly marvelous enigma of God's perfect love for His creation, and it definitely addresses some powerful truths through the process. But in order to truly appreciate the messages in this book, I think you must first experience them in a more...tangible way, which Francine Rivers helps to provide through her fictional novel.**

So yes, I am starting off this book review by encouraging you to read a completely different book (probably poor book-promotion etiquette), but I promise you it is worth it. Stay tuned for what is hopefully a far-less scattered post on my first personal insight while reading Pursued.***

*psh, I wish.
**True story: I have given away more copies of "Redeeming Love" than anything else ever in my life. I can't ever keep a copy for myself, because as soon as I buy a new one I find someone else who hasn't read it yet and instantly give mine away. 
***doubtful. ha.